Oct 16, 2018

Homeschool Review Crew: St. Bartholomew's Eve

One of my favorite vendors is Heirloom Audio! I was so happy to be asked to review their newest adventure, St. Bartholomew's Eve.



St. Bartholomew's Eve


Heirloom Audio has produced an amazing series of historical fiction performances. These stories are based on the G. A. Henty series of books. So if you and your kids enjoy the books, you will really enjoy the Heirloom Audio version!

First, I must explain that this is not an audiobook. Heirloom Audio Productions offers theatrical productions with actors, sound effects, fast-paced plots and background music. It isn't just a book being read aloud, it is a performance! This adds so much richness to the experience. The story quickly grabs my kids and keeps them engaged. I feel it also stretches my kids' minds because nothing is explained or described. They have to use their imaginations to picture what is happening and also to pay attention to catch all the nuances of the action.

Heirloom Audio Productions puts out a quality product. They use seasoned actors for their voices, actors whose names you will probably recognize and musical scores that add emotional depth to the stories.

St. Bartholomew's Eve is the story of the French Huguenots, Protestants, who, in 1580, were being persecuted for the faith by the Catholics in power. As per usual for a Henty story, the main character is a young English lad who finds himself in unusual circumstances that call for him to portray courage, loyalty and faith in God.

In this story, the lad is Philip Fletcher and the circumstances are that while living in France with his relatives joins in the fight for freedom with his cousin, Francois. Together they fight in several battles, help foil a plot by the mother of the French king, (Charles IX) to assassinate Admiral de Coligny,  and experience many miracles and acts of bravery. 

The story climaxes in the massacre of thousands of Protestants, (women and children as well as men). Philip joins in the battle in response to the massacre, and is able to rescue some (not all) of his friends from the dangerous Paris.

In this gripping tale, we are reminded that our freedom to worship as we please was the result of a hard-won fight wherein many sacrificed their very lives in order to win.

Also as per usual for a Henty story, there is a love interest, a precocious child (his tale is particularly heartrending) and, best of all, a strong emphasis on nobleness of character, especially bravery, loyalty and faith.

Heirloom Audio always provides an inspiring quote that distills the theme to a few succinct words. For St. Bartholomew's Eve, that quote is "Whom shall we obey? The king of France or the King of Kings?"

In my household, we are not huge fans of audio learning, however, we definitely make an exception when it comes to Heirloom Audio. We love these stories! The kids love the battles, the excitement, the comic relief, and maybe even the love interest (a little bit). I love the inspiration, the call to sacrifice and commitment and courage. We all highly recommend St. Bartholomew's Eve as well as every other production offered by Heirloom Audio!




St. Bartholomew's Eve {Heirloom Audio Reviews}




Crew Disclaimer

Oct 15, 2018

Texas History

I am teaching a couple of classes of local kids Texas History this year. This was a fun project that we did.


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The cookies were a hassle. We finally (thanks to my brilliant husband) resorted to using the cookie cutter on the cookies after they were baked, fresh out of the oven, before they hardened.
The kids enjoyed decorating them and they really enjoyed eating them!

Oct 8, 2018

Scooters... with wings!

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I bought these scooters from a local homeschooling family and the kids have been learning to ride them. There is definitely a learning curve! They are fun, though, and great exercise.
Bonus, we had beautiful weather to practice!


Oct 2, 2018

Homeschool Review Crew: Forensic Faith for Kids


David C Cook and Case Makers Academy sent us a copy of Forensic Faith for Kids to review.

This is a small paperback book that teaches kids to investigate their faith and use facts to support their beliefs. This is the third book in the Case Makers Academy books (the first two are Cold Case Christianity for Kids and God's Crime Scene for Kids) but can easily stand alone. No need to read the first two before you read this one, but if you are like me, you will probably want to!

Forensic Faith for Kids


The first interesting thing about this story that I noticed was that it was written from the reader's perspective, as though I (the reader) were right there in the story. "You" was a prominent character in the narrative which I thought was a fun technique. Although I did get the strong impression that "you" was a boy.

The story is about a group of kids (Hannah, Daniel, Justin, You and Jasmine) who are all enrolled in the Junior Detective Academy and learning how to solve mysteries from the local police department. In this book, they have two mysteries to solve. They are looking for the owners of an adorable Corgi puppy and also trying to figure out if Jesus really said He was God or not. As the book progresses, they learn the skills needed to solve both mysteries!

Throughout the book, they are guided and taught by a police officer, Detective Jeffries, who talks them through the process of gathering evidence, interrogating witnesses, writing down information, organizing their findings, and most importantly, not giving up!

There are eight chapters in the book, plus a preface and a postscript. I read through it with my 11 and 12 year olds. We were able to complete a chapter a day fairly easily, so we worked through it in about two weeks.

Scattered throughout the book are simple illustrations, diagrams, and sidebars with definitions, CSI assignments, and tools for your detective bag.

It was super simple to use. I read the shortish chapter aloud, and then we got online and visited the Case Makers Academy. This is a fun addition to the story. For each chapter (and preface and postscript) there is a video and three downloads to extend the story. The video is the author discussing the topics in each chapter. He covers what the kids are supposed to learn from the chapter and adds to it a little bit, enlarging upon the skills and "tools" the kids should have gained from the story.

Then there are the three downloads. First is the Training Activity Sheet. These are games or puzzles that encourage logic, visual discrimination. critical thinking and other detective skills. These were my kids' favorite sheets.


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Next is the Academy Notebook Sheet.  These are basically note-taking pages. Fill-in-the-blank worksheets with answers that the kids have to find in the story. They all finish up with that chapter's "tool for your detective bag".


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And finally the Adult Leader Guide. These contain reading assignments from both Forensic Faith for Kids, but also for the corresponding grown-up book. Since I didn't own the grown-up book, I skipped that part and it was not a big deal for us. It also tells you what the important concepts in the chapter are and finishes up with a questions you can ask your kids about the chapter.

I found a lot of value in Forensic Faith for Kids. When I was a teenager I had so many questions and doubts. I wanted to know the truth behind what I had always been taught. There were several adults (including a pastor) that seemed shocked that I would question my faith and tried to brush off or even shut down my search for answers. Thankfully, there were many more who let me play devil's advocate, answered my questions to the best of their ability, admitted when the didn't know the answer, shared their own journeys with me, and always, always pointed me back to the Word of God Himself.

Therefore, I really appreciated that this book teaches kids that it is okay to wonder, it's okay to search the Bible, okay to find out for yourself what is true and what is false. God is big enough and loving enough that He can take it!

I loved having this book to walk us through the steps and share with us the "tools" that we need to be detectives and investigate faith.

The only thing I would change is that I would have really loved to have been able to access all the worksheets in one bundled download. It would have been so much quicker and easier to download and print them!


Forensic Faith for Kids {David C Cook  and  Case Makers Academy Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Sep 30, 2018

Sep 24, 2018

Safe But Sorry

A while back I read an article about helicopter parenting versus free range parenting. The article was meant to be light-hearted and funny. And it was. But as I scanned through the comments after reading, I was struck by one short comment that really made me think.

The comment was simply, "Better to be safe than sorry."

And I thought: Is that true? Is that right? IS it better to be safe than sorry? Is seeking safety really what I want my kids to do? Is that the message I want my parenting to impart?

And the answer is NO.




As toddlers, I do not want my kids to choose safety over the risk of learning to walk. It is safer to just sit in the middle of floor because if I stand up, I might fall over and I might get hurt. It's safer just to let someone bigger carry me around so I don't stumble.

I don't want them to choose safety over exploring the world. What will happen if I pet the dog? If I pet her too hard and she doesn't like it? What will happen if I open this book? Throw this ball? Jump off this log? Swing this stick? Bounce this toy off the floor? Stick my finger in a mud puddle?Sometimes these explorations go well, sometimes they do not. But I don't want them to stop experimenting with their world in favor of safety.

As kids I don't want them to choose safety over trying a new skill. What if I sing a song and get laughed at? What if I get frustrated learning to add numbers? What if I write a story and it is truly horrible? What if I build a robot and it falls apart? What if I risk and I fail? I want them to spend their childhood risking, not choosing safety. It is better to try than to sit in safety.



As older kids I want them to risk reaching out to that kid sitting by themselves, to ask, "Hey, would you like to sit with us?" I want them to scorn the safety of following the crowd and risk standing alone on their convictions. I want them to choose Right, to refuse group-think, to stand out and say, "I see things differently and that's ok."

As teens I want them to be leaders, encouragers, volunteers, people that step forward, take risks, accept challenges, to confront bullies and protect others, not to choose the safety of looking the other way.


As adults I want them to be world-changers; to have the courage to be missionaries, ministers, entrepreneurs, neighbors, or anything and everything that God asks them to be.  I want them to be the heroes that rescue children, that love the unlovable, that stand up against racism, ageism, hatred and anger. That say no to greed, abuse, and evil. I want them to look for solutions to problems, not choose the safety of the status quo, to shrug and say, "It's not safe to get involved."

So, no, it is NOT better to be safe than sorry, because for so many decisions in life, if you choose safety over risk, you will be sorry.

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